Contents > Chapter 11: Blind Following of Sufi Shaikhs > Introducing a new type of Tawheed: Tawheed al-Matlab


Introducing a new type of Tawheed: Tawheed al-Matlab

Tawheed al-Matlab as explained by Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi

“Tawheed al-Matlab is to have complete faith and a strong belief in one’s Shaikh that as far as reaching the desired destination (matloob) is concerned, none can make me reach my goal apart from my own Shaikh[1], even though there may be other Shaikhs present in the world, who have qualities similar to my Shaikh. Therefore, Tawheed al-Matlab is a major pillar of Sulook (the way of the Sufis). The one who cannot acquire this (attachment to a single Shaikh) will always be distressed, even if he died wandering in the forest. Allah does not care for such a person at the least. To consider every Shaikh as the one, who can quench my thirst and help me reach my goal, is harmful to the Sulook. Just as there is one Haqq (truth) and one Kiblah, the spiritual guide should also be one. Otherwise, nothing shall be achieved apart from destruction and many have perished in this state of distress. So, if one has the slightest thought that anyone in this world apart from my Shaikh can help me reach the Matloob; Shaytaan will misguide him and leave him in a state of forgetfulness (about one’s goal).

It happens many times that Shaytaan comes in the appearance of another saint. It the disciple’s conviction is weak, he will be inclined towards the Shaytaan who appears in the form of a Pir (spiritual guide). Once Shaytaan has impressed him, he will have total control over him, and thereafter the disciple cannot escape the clutches of the Shaytaan. This will destroy the disciple. In order to strengthen the disciple’s belief in him, the Shaytaan may also show him some supernatural feats. Shaytaan is never pleased when one acquires Tawheed al-Matlab. And he cannot appear in the form of one’s Pir (Shaikh), because, “A Shaikh is to his followers, what a Prophet is to the nation (Ummah). He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also said, “The scholars of this Ummah are like the Prophets of Bani Israel.” …. Hence Shaytaan cannot appear in the form of one’s Shaikh[2], just as he cannot appear in the actual form of the Messenger.”[3]


Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi says: “If in one gathering all the Awliya have gathered including Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi and our Hazrat Haji Sahib (i.e. Imdadullah Muhajir Makki) also happens to be there, then we shall not turn our attention to Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi or anyone else. We will go to Hazrat Haji Sahib. Yes, Hazrat Haji Sahib should turn his attention to them. Our concern is with only Hazrat Haji Sahib.”[4]


Tawheed al-Matlab as explained by Ashraf Ali Thanvi

Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi in his Tafseer while explaining the verse, “And who believe in which has been sent down to you (O Muhammad) and that which was sent down before you”, “...from this verse it will be inferred by Qiyas that one should have faith in all the Shaikhs, as one would have belief in one’s own Shaikh. However, the following (Ittiba) is for one’s own Shaikh, and this is similar to the case of the Messengers (i.e. we believe in all the Messengers and consider their followers as Ahl al-Kitab, but are to follow our own Messenger).”[5]  (click to see the scanned image of this quote)

Similar to this has also been mentioned in Irshaadul-Mulook of Aashiq Ilahi Meerathi.[6]


Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi says in “Aadaabul Muaashirat”, “While honoring and respecting all Shaikhs, do not accept for practical adoption their taleem. Adopting the taleem of another Shaikh while one’s Shaikh is living is detrimental. Objecting to one’s Shaikh’s taleem will deprive one of spiritual progress.[7]


Therefore, the scholars of Deoband have placed great significance on Tawheed al-Matlab in their writings to the extent that it has been declared compulsory to have a Pir (spiritual guide) and the going astray of Mirza Gulaam Ahmad, the Dajjal of our times, has been blamed upon the fact that he had no Pir.


Tawheed al-Matlab and Taqleed

The Concept of Tawheed al-Matlab amongst the Deobandis seems to be the basis of their staunch and fanatic blind following (Taqleed) of Madhhabs. Because the Imams whom the Deobandis blindly-imitate never founded any Madhhabs, nor did they call the people to become their blind followers. They were pious scholars, like many others like them, who did a great service to the Muslim Ummah and left behind knowledge in the form of students and books.


The Deobandis place great emphasis on Taqleed of the Imams, but ultimately seeks to establish themselves as the final religious authority - with the people mere blind-followers of Deobandism.

[1] This is also the saying of Imdadullah Muhajir Makki, Mashaikh-e-Chist (Eng. Trans.) p.232.

[2] Also mentioned by Moulana Zakariyah in Mashaikh-e-Chist (Eng. Trans.) p.256.

[3] Irshaadul-Mulook, p.27, story no.3.[English Translation by Majlisul-Ulema p.49]

[4] Mashaikh-e-Chist (Eng. Trans.) p.250.

[5] Ashraf Ali Thanvi mentions this under the heading, ‘Masaail as-Salook’ - The Rulings regarding the Path (of Soofism)], the Tafseer of Soorah al-Baqarah (2), verse 4, p.3, Tafseer Bayaan al-Qur’aan.

[6] Irshaadul-Mulook (Eng. Trans.) p.48.

[7] Aadaabul Muaasharat (Etiquette of Social Life) (Eng. Trans.) - Aadab of the Shaikh, p.89-90.